4Star Politics: The likelihood KC sees a pitch for a new downtown baseball stadium

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals are committed to playing baseball at the Truman Sports Complex for the next decade. After that, who knows?

FOX4’s John Holt and The Kansas City Star’s Dave Helling are joined by Kevin Collison of City Scene KC in this week’s episode of 4Star Politics to discuss the Royals possible move downtown.

It’s been a week since Royals principal owner John Sherman confirmed the club is starting to explore possibilities for a new home. Those possibilities include the possibility of a downtown stadium. Sherman also said the organization was looking at an area that would benefit the region and perhaps even underrepresented areas.

Thoughts about any potential new stadium and a downtown move, and the funding for it, started pouring in almost as soon as Sherman floated the ideas.

“The temperature in the water just went up a little bit with Mr. Sherman’s announcement last week,” Helling said.

Downtown baseball is an idea that’s been tossed around Kansas City for years, but there’s never been enough support to make a move happen. A lot of that is the amount of funding that would be necessary to build a new stadium. Tax payers are already paying a 3/8 cent sales tax that funded the last round of stadium upgrades. That tax won’t expire until 2031, the same time the Royals lease expires at Kauffman Stadium.

While the Royals still have years ahead of them to play at the Truman Sports Complex, planning for a stadium needs to begin much sooner.

“The sports architecture people tell me it takes probably about 4 years at least to design and build a stadium and that doesn’t take into account assembling the land, should they want to do something outside the Truman Sports Complex,” Collins said. “It’s definitely a time when people need to get serious if this downtown ballpark is an option or if any other site in the metro is an option, other than where it’s already at.”

Remington Research Group polled 640-likely voters on Sept. 15 and 16, right after Sherman made the announcement. The majority of respondents oppose a downtown baseball stadium, but the gap shrinks drastically if taxpayer money isn’t used in the project.

“John Sherman seemed to make it clear that there would be a public-private partnership if this were going to happen, and that’s certainly right now with the sales tax at the sports complex,” Holt said.

It’s the same type of issue city leaders faced two decades ago when they started planning the revitalization of downtown and adding an arena into the skyline.

“I do remember the idea of replacing the Kemper Arena with what became the Sprint Center, now T-Mobile Center was opposed by people at the time, and more recently the proposal, which is now being built, to replace Kansas City International was opposed by a lot of people,” Collison said. “So, for whatever reason, there is a significant number of people in our community that love the statue quo, they like where things are at, they’re resistant to change. But, it turns out if you argue a good case that it’s time to do a replacement, whether it’s the arena or the airport, they’re receptive to it.”

There are may more steps to take before a decision is made about where the Royals will play in the future. Sherman did not say when he expected to release additional information about the team’s future home.

FOX4 and The Kansas City Star are partnering to bring you 4Star Politics, a special digital venture with new episodes released Wednesdays at 5 p.m.

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